Family of Tamir Rice calls for special prosecutor in shooting case

By Jason Hanna and Ed Payne, CNN | 10/16/2015, 4:50 p.m.
The family of slain Cleveland boy Tamir Rice called Friday for a special prosecutor to take over the case, alleging ...
Tamir Rice

(CNN) -- The family of slain Cleveland boy Tamir Rice called Friday for a special prosecutor to take over the case, alleging the county prosecutor currently handling it has shown himself to be biased in favor of the police officer who shot the 12-year-old last year.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty, saying evidence still needs to be gathered, is expected to present the case to a grand jury, which will determine whether charges will be filed against the officer and his partner.

But the 11-month wait, and McGinty's decision last weekend to release two expert reports concluding the shooting was reasonable, means someone else should take the case to the grand jury, attorneys for Rice's family said.

"We are concerned, we are upset, we are frustrated, we are angry, because we feel that justice is not in process and not in motion in this case," Rice family attorney Jonathan Abady said Friday outside Cleveland's Justice Center Complex.

Rice's mother, Samaria Rice, said she was disappointed with McGinty's handling of the case.

"I am praying the public continues to ask questions to seek the truth," she said at the news conference.

The attorneys sent a letter to McGinty hours earlier, asking him to appoint a special prosecutor.

Authorities say Tamir Rice was killed by Timothy Loehmann, an officer in training, outside a Cleveland recreation center in November 2014 after the boy walked around with a pellet gun that resembled a handgun.

The shooting, captured on surveillance video, sparked controversy given Tamir's age and the true nature of the gun. It also came as the nation reeled from police-involved shootings of unarmed African-American men; Tamir was black.

A grand jury will decide whether Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, will face charges.

McGinty not backing down

McGinty responded to Tamir's family Friday with a news release that made no indication he would step aside, but defended the release of the expert reports.

The two reports, as well as a third one by the Highway Patrol that came to no conclusion, were posted on the prosecutor's website on the night of October 10.

"Whatever the outcome of a case, the public should not be surprised by -- or unaware of the basis for -- any decision," McGinty's Friday statement reads. "Some parties may be displeased with evidence or reports as they are disclosed, but by making them public before conclusion, there is an opportunity to correct errors."

McGinty previously has said his office wasn't using the reports to reach a conclusion and the grand jury will get to consider all the evidence once the investigation into shooting is done.

Rice attorneys: McGinty's explanation disingenuous

But Rice family attorney Subodh Chandra said Friday that McGinty's claim was disingenuous. Prosecutors often don't just dump evidence in front of grand juries, but rather they recommend that a grand jury makes a decision in a particular way, he said.

The release of the expert reports tips McGinty's hand and risks influencing the grand jury pool before they take the case, Chandra said.